October 20, 2017

The First Apparition of the Blessed Mother took place while she was still Alive. The year was 40AD.

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


Our Lady of Pillar---catholic.com
By Larry Peterson

 Only seven years after Jesus death and Resurrection,  on October 12, 40 A.D., an incredible event took place. That was the day the very first Marian apparition ever recorded took place. And yes, Our Lady was still alive at the time. This apparition occurred in Spain and it was Jesus' apostle, St. James the Great, brother of St. John, who the Blessed Virgin appeared to. This apparition is known as Our Lady of  Pillar.

During the very early days of Christianity, James had traveled to a pagan land called Zaragoza, in the Roman province of Hispania which today is better known as Spain or Espana. Zaragoza was a foreboding place and James was having a very difficult time evangelizing the people in the area. They just did not seem to care and they did not even like this strange man from a different country.

Legend has it that James, despondent and dejected had fallen into (what we call today), a terrible "funk". No matter how much he tried he could not seem to lift his own spirits. One night, James was praying by the banks of the Ebro river. Suddenly a great light engulfed him. James knelt, staring into the light,  and what he saw was beyond description. In the light was the Virgin Mary and she was surrounded by thousands of angels.

She told James that he should persevere because, ultimately, his work for Jesus would have great results and many would turn to the Faith. She asked that a church be built on the place where she appeared and left behind a pillar of "Jasper" to mark the spot where she had been.  The Virgin Mary also left a small statue of herself holding the infant Jesus in her arms. The statue was sitting atop the Jasper pillar. Since the Blessed Virgin was still alive and living in Jerusalem, her appearance is considered an act of bilocation.

James immediately gathered some of his new followers and began work on a chapel on the designated site. The chapel is the first church ever dedicated to Mary and today, after many renovations, is known as the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar. It is located in the exact place Our Lady appeared 2000 years ago.


James participated in the dedication of the small church and returned to Jerusalem. Ironically, he was the first apostle to die for the faith. In 44 A.D., Herod Agrippa, had James beheaded. The disciples of James took his body back to Spain for final burial. The statue and pillar were taken under the protection of the people of Zorogaza.

The many miracles surrounding the relic can attest to its heavenly origin. For example, in almost 2000 years the statue has never needed dusting. In 1936, the Catholic-hating "Reds" bombed the shrine but the bombs that hit the church never exploded. No one is allowed to touch the statue except for the four priests assigned to its care and newborn infants can be lifted up to touch the image of their heavenly Mom.

Popes from the earliest times have attested to the authenticity of Our lady's appearance at the shrine. Pope Calixtus III issued a Papal bull in 1456 encouraging people to make pilgrimages to Our Lady of Pillar. The miracle of the shrine's foundation was even acknowledged.

The most prominent miracle occurred in the 17th century. A  beggar named Miguel Pellicer from the town of Calanda, could not work due to having an amputated leg. He was constantly praying at the shrine for the Blessed Mother's help. She answered his prayers for sure because his leg was restored. When word of this spread, pilgrimages greatly increased to the shrine and it has been so ever since.

Over the centuries many controversial stories arose concerning the authenticity of this shrine. Pope Innocent III, answering an appeal from Spain, had twelve cardinals investigate all the data available. On August 7, 1723, the Sacred Congregation of Rites, affirmed the original. In 1730, Pope Clement XII, allowed the feat of Our Lady of Pillar to be celebrated throughout the Spanish empire. Eventually she was declared Patroness of the Hispanic World. Our Lady of Pillar's feast day is October 12.

One final thought. As a young seminarian, St. Josemaria Escriva, made daily visits to the shrine of Our Lady of Pillar. He always prayed for guidance and eventually founded Opus Dei. The members honor her feast day each year.

Our Lady of Pillar, pray for us.

        copyright©Larry peterson 2017

October 16, 2017

* “A Different Love Story: Remembering “The Prison Angel”; Mother Antonia Brenner

Mother Antonia Brenner praying with  convict at La Mesa Prison     articles-latimes .com

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

**This article is an update of one published on the 2nd and 3rd anniversary of Mother Antonia's passing. 

This is a love story. No, it is not about romantic love. Rather, it is about the love of
Christ exploding in the soul of a woman who ran with her God-given gift and did her best to shower it upon some of the meanest and worst criminals in Mexico.

This is about Mother Antonia Brenner, who was born in Beverly Hills, CA, was married and divorced twice, had seven children and ultimately became known as the "Prison Angel" of La Mesa Prison, the worst and most dangerous prison in all of Mexico.  Mother Antonia died four years ago on October 17. On the anniversary of her passing, I just thought I would remember her with a few words.

 Mary Clarke was born in Beverly Hills, Calif.on December 1, 1926. Her dad, Joe Clarke, was a successful businessman and Mary and her two siblings grew up surrounded with affluence and the glitz of the movie world. One thing was certain about Papa Joe. No matter how good life was for his family he made sure his kids were always taught to help the less fortunate. The desire to help others would blossom in Mary and was one day destined to explode. However, before the "explosion" Mary embarked on a circuitous life journey.

Mary married at 18 and had three children. The first died shortly after birth. That marriage ended in divorce and then Mary married again. The wedding took place in Las Vegas and it was to a man named Carl Brenner. She and Carl had five children together but ultimately, that marriage also ended in divorce. Mary had somehow distanced herself from her strict Catholic upbringing. No matter, it seems that the Holy Spirit had his eye on Mary Clarke her entire life. It was time for Him to shower His grace on His daughter.

Mary became more and more involved in charity work and has her seven children got older she began to visit La Mesa Penitentiary to deliver donations such as food, medicine, and clothing to the prisoners. The plight of the prisoners at La Mesa began to impact her greatly and as time went by her growing compassion and love of neighbor would become focused on these people. They would become her specialty, her ministry, her purpose in life.

In 1977, after her kids were grown and her second divorce was final, Mary gave away her expensive belongings, moved out of her home in Ventura and headed to La Mesa. She had received permission to move there. Her new home was to be a 10' by 10' cell. She would live as any other inmate, sleeping in her concrete cell and having only cold water and prison food. The amenities in her room included a Crucifix on the wall, a Bible and Spanish dictionary nearby and a hard, prison bed. In the morning she lined up with the other prisoners for roll call. This was to be her home for the next thirty years.

The story of how this twice divorced woman and mother of seven kids from two marriages was accepted by the Catholic Church as a Sister and founder of a new order can be found at the links provided. Suffice it to say that as time went by Sister Antonia became "La Mama" (Mother Antonia) aka The Prison Angel,  

Mother Antonia Brenner praying with prisoners.. courtesy eudistssisters.org


She walked freely among the drug traffickers, thieves, murderers, rapists, and others touching cheeks and offering prayers. Many of these people were among the most violent and desperate of men. Yet she happily walked with them and comforted and consoled them and held their heads between her hands as they were dying. 

Mother Antonia Brenner truly saw the face of Christ in each and every prisoner she came in contact with. She loved them all. Why else would hardened criminals, some who had never loved or been loved,  call the diminutive woman who hailed from Beverly Hills, "La Mama"? They loved her in return.

I believe that one day Mother Antonia Brenner will be canonized a saint and inducted into the "Catholic Hall of Fame". She was an example for each and every one of us showing us how to selflessly "love our neighbor" no matter who they might be. 

N.B. Mother Antonia founded the order known as The Eudist Servants of the 11th Hour. The word, Eudist, is taken from St. John Eudes, a 17th-century priest, and founder of the Eudists Order and the Order of Our Lady of Charity. The 11th Hour indicates that the Eudists sisters accept women in life having a second calling. They must be at least 45 years-old to enter the order.


October 14, 2017

Our Lady of Good Remedy---Her Intercession saved Countless Christian Slaves

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

wikimedia.commons
Matthew 25: 37-40
"Then the Righteous will answer Him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?

And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me."

Those gospel passages from Matthew's gospel give us Jesus' teachings on what is commonly known as the Corporal Works of Mercy.  Who could have ever thought  at the time of Christ that 1200 years later these simple directives from our Lord would not only lead to the founding of two religious orders, the Trinitarians and the Mercedarians, but also to a special devotion to the Blessed Mother where she is known as Our Lady of Good Remedy.

 The Christian societies of southern Europe and the Muslim tribes of North Africa waged war with each other intermittently from the eighth through the fifteenth centuries. During these times Muslim bandits continually raided Sicily, Southern France and parts of Spain, kidnapping Christians and dragging them into slavery and/or holding them for ransom. The time had come for a man by the name of John of Matha to appear on the scene. He was destined to save and rescue the kidnapped and imprisoned and they numbered in the thousands.

John was born in southern France in 1169. Born to noble parents of high standing, John, had the best education available at the time but never became self-indulged. On the contrary, John always had an affinity for the downtrodden and always saw fit to give most of the monies his parents sent him to the sick and the poor. In fact, it is known that John visited the hospital every Friday to assist in taking care of the sick.

Acknowledging his calling to the priesthood, John of Matha, was enrolled at the University of Paris, learned theology and was ordained a priest in 1193. As he celebrated his first Mass he saw a vision of Christ holding two chained captives by their hands. One was a Moor (Muslim) and the other a Christian. The Christian held a staff emblazoned with a red and blue cross. It was this moment in time when John decided his mission in life was to rescue Christians from the Moors.

Realizing he needed time to plan, reflect and pray about his new calling, John sought out the hermit known as, Felix of Valois, for his guidance and mentoring. Felix, already 70-years-old, readily agreed and joined forces with John. Together they headed to Rome to ask Pope Innocent III, for permission to start a new order dedicated in honor of the Blessed Trinity. On December 17, 1198, this permission was granted and so was born the Order of the Most Holy Trinity aka Trinitarians.

When Father John began his ministry of rescuing and ransoming, he had no idea that those captured and imprisoned numbered in the thousands. John needed money...lots of money...to begin "buying" enslaved Christians back from the Moors. He knew in his heart there would be only one way he might have success. He turned his money quest over to the Blessed Virgin.

Our dearest Mother Mary apparently heard John's call for help and she answered him without hesitation. In fact, over the following centuries, thousands upon thousands of Christians were saved and returned home. John of Matha, in thanksgiving and in appreciation of our Lady's intercession bestowed on her the title of "Our Lady of Good Remedy".

Devotion to Mary under this title is well known throughout Europe and Latin America. Her feast day is October 8 and she is depicted as the Blessed Virgin handing a bag of money to John of Matha. We should all remember that whenever we are having a difficult time obtaining help with something, no matter how complicated it may seem, we can invoke Our Lady of Good Remedy. She is simply waiting to hear from you.

John of Matha was canonized a saint by Pope Alexander VII in 1666. His feast day is December 17. His partner, Felix of Valois, was canonized a saint by Pope Urban IV in 1262. His feast day is November 4.

We ask both St. John of Matha and St. Felix of Valois to pray for us all. 

And last but not least, we ask Our Lady of Good Remedy to PLEASE pray for us. 


                             
        copyright©LarryPeterson 2017

October 10, 2017

The Magnificent Dogma of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary- ---

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Divine Maternity (Russian)    catholocism.org
The Third Ecumenical Council held by the Catholic Church took place in Ephesus in 431. The Council was called to refute the teaching being put forth by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius. He held that the Virgin Mary may only be called the Christotokos (Birth Giver of Christ) and not Theotokos (Mother of God).

This teaching was condemned and the Council confirmed that indeed, since it was God who was the Father, Mary was truly the Mother of God. This settled for all time the central mystery of the Catholic faith which is the Incarnation; Jesus Christ is one person with two natures; one divine and one human. This is a mystery we embrace and believe but will never fully understand.  

Pope Pius XI, who had a profound devotion to the Blessed Virgin, honored her by creating a new feast day in her honor. In 1931, 1500 years after the Council of Ephesus had proclaimed that Our Blessed Lady was truly the Mother of God, Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast Day of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This action not only reaffirmed the Council's dogmatic proclamation that Mary is Theotokos, it also set October 11 into the Roman calendar as the day the feast was to be celebrated.

Since Vatican II's changes were put in place the Feast Day of Divine Maternity has become somewhat overshadowed by the dogma of Mary's "Perpetual Virginity". But make no mistake, these two dogmatic pronouncements are eternally joined together and they are inseparable. October 11 is still an active feast in the 1962 Roman Missal which is used during the extraordinary celebration of the Mass.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church 495: Mary's Divine Motherhood;
Called in the Gospels, 'the mother of Jesus,' Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, "as the mother of my Lord." In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly the 'Mother of God' (Theotokos).

From the Catechism 496: Mary's Virginity:
From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived "by the Holy Spirit without human seed". The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own...

Our Blessed Mother was a young, innocent woman of about 14 years of age when the Angel Gabriel came to her and announced to her what God wanted from her. What could have gone through her young mind as this was asked of her? She must have been so afraid. How could she have had any possible idea that she would be the New Eve who would give birth to the New Adam who, in turn, would save us all?

This mystery of faith is so profound. This young woman, in effect, was chosen by God Himself to be his spouse. Their child would be both God and Man. He would change the world forever. 
 Mary's virginal motherhood sealed in perpetuity the truth of the Incarnation. She gave Christ the body He possessed. She gave Him the humanity that was part of Him. And all the time he was  God...and she was His Mom. WOW!


copyright©Larry Peterson 2017

October 7, 2017

The Pope that Saved the Church and Christendom..The story of St. Pius V

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME
Battle of Lepanto --wikimedia common


By Larry Peterson

October is the month of the Holy Rosary. During the month we might also acknowledge the person known as the  Pope of the Rosary,  Pope St. Pius V.

In 1517, Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, posted his 95 Theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. Within the Catholic world, a great theological revolt ensued. This revolt spread throughout Europe and it was focused on many of the practices taking place within the church at the time, such as the selling of indulgences, papal authority, and Transubstantiation. This "revolt" is more commonly known as the Protestant Reformation.

The Catholic Church did not begin to confront the Reformation seriously until Pope Paul III convened the Council of Trent in the year 1545.   This was to be a mammoth undertaking as virtually all church doctrines had been challenged by the Reformation including the Real Presence and the validity of the sacraments.

The Council did not adjourn until 1563, eighteen years after its inception. A period of 46 years had elapsed since the 95-Theses were first posted. But the final pronouncements of the Council had yet to be enacted and sealed as doctrinal law. Three years after the Council adjourned Michael Cardinal Ghislieri was elected to the papacy. He took the name of Pope Pius V.

Pope Pius V was a devout priest who found his strength in Christ crucified. He also held a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His first acts as pontiff were to give approval to the changes instituted by the Council of Trent and immediately implement the reforms set forth.

Pope Pius V codified the Tridentine Mass (Latin Mass) as the primary Mass for the Roman Church, He authorized a revised breviary and a new Roman Catechism and Missal. He approved the Council's teachings that Christ is present in both the consecrated bread and the consecrated wine. The Mass was defined as a TRUE sacrifice and he approved doctrinal statements on the sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony. He also affirmed church teachings on Purgatory and indulgences. He would quickly have much more to do. The Turks of the Ottoman Empire were determined to conquer Europe and Rome.

Deeply devoted to our Lady,  Pope Pius V, issued a document in 1569 called a Papal Bull . This document was called, Consueverunt Romani Pontifices (On the Rosary) and it set in place the permanent format for the Rosary, the same which is used today. This is the same Rosary that our Lady presented to St. Dominic in 1214.

The greatest challenge at the time to the papacy of Pius V and to the Catholic Church was the Ottoman Empire. Pius V understood the intense desire of the Muslim Turks to conquer the entire Mediterranean area. Just as it is today, jihad, had been declared by the Muslim imams and Pope Pius V knew full well this was spiritual war about to be waged.

Pope Pius called together the Christian nations of Europe and formed them into what became known as the Holy League. Both Protestants and Catholics from different nations came together under the guidance of Pope Pius V to fight back against the Ottoman Turks. Pope Pius asked all Catholics to pray the Rosary asking for our Lady's intercession when the battle ensued.

And so it was that on October 7, 1571, the Battle of Lepanto, took place.  As the Pope and thousands of his followers prayed the Rosary the Battle of Lepanto began. Under the military leadership of Don Juan of Austria, the Christian fleet won a resounding victory over the more powerful Ottoman Turks. This battle literally saved Christendom and western civilization. Pope Pius V declared that from that day on, the day would be called The Feast Day of Our Lady of Victory. Today it is called The Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary.

The papacy of Pope Pius V lasted a mere six years. During his reign, he led the forces of "good against the forces of "evil" literally saving Christianity throughout Europe. He gave all credit to our Blessed  Mother and today she bears the title of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Pope Pius V also set in place the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which was unchanged for over 400 years (until Vatican II). established the doctrines of Transubstantiation and the Real Presence, restored discipline in seminaries, republished the Roman Breviary and the Roman Missal. He was canonized a saint on May 22, 1712 by Pope Clement XI.  How honored he must be to be called the Pope of the Holy Rosary.

Pope St. Pius V please pray for us.

                                        Copyright©Larry Peterson

September 28, 2017

Common Decency & Respect for Others should overshadow "Personal" Rights

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Football season 2017 has been ruined by the pompous, over-inflated, spoiled millionaires who obviously know nothing about their own country. And PLEASE don't tell me "it is their right to protest". There is a Natural Law that speaks to a higher authority--Common decency and respect for each other never had to be written into the Constitution. People used to understand that. I guess those days are gone. It is very sad


September 23, 2017

Rhoda Wise—Wife, Mom, Convert, Stigmatic and Mentor to Mother Angelica

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


Rhoda Wise, 2nd from right; Rita Rizz (Mother Angelica) age 19 right side
www.mysticsofthechurch.com 


By Larry Peterson

The year was 1904 and Rhoda Wise was terrified. The sixteen year old girl was experiencing searing pain which was exploding in her lower abdomen. She was taken to Wheeling Hospital in Wheeling, West Virginia where she was about to have surgery to remove her ruptured appendix. She had no idea she was about to experience a turning point in her young life.

While she was recovering from her operation a Catholic Sister came to visit her. The nun gave Rhoda a St. Benedict medal. Rhoda told the nun that her parents, who literally despised Catholics, would never allow her to keep the medal. In fact, Rhoda was sure they would be furious that it had been given to her. 

Sister put the small medal inside a locket that Rhoda had. The sixteen year old was so moved by the kindly gesture that she kept that medal for the rest of her life. It also started her thinking about Catholicism.

Rhoda was born in Cadiz, Ohio on February 22, 1888. She was the sixth of eight children. Her dad, Eli Greer, was a bricklayer and her mom, Anna, was an active member in helping Civil War veterans. They were staunch Protestants and Rhoda grew up confronted by an unyielding Catholic bias. Most of Rhoda’s friends harbored anti-Catholic sentiments but she did manage to have a few Catholic friends.

Rhoda married Ernest Wissmar in 1915. Ernest was a widower from Canton, Ohio, and Rhoda moved there with her husband. Six months after their marriage, Ernest, a plasterer, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on a job site and passed away. Rhoda, soon after being widowed, met George Wise, himself a widower, and they were married in January, 1917.

Rhoda loved George very much but he was a drinker and Rhoda would spend many married years confronting ongoing financial troubles, embarrassments and the many challenges that accompany the disease of alcoholism . Among these challenges was having to move seven times as George’s drinking caused him to have to frequently find new jobs.  Through it all, Rhoda, did her best to remain upbeat.

In 1931, Rhoda, developed a huge, 39 pound ovarian cyst. This cyst was so large there was no doctor in Canton who would attempt to remove it. A doctor in Wheeling agreed to do it.  The downside was Rhoda was told she might not survive the operation. Rhoda agreed to the surgery anyway.

She survived the operation but her gall bladder was affected and had to be removed. Soon after the gall bladder surgery she developed a painful bowel obstruction which had to be surgically repaired. Rhoda was never the same after this and then, in 1936, she stepped into a sewer drain severely damaging her right leg.

Her foot turned inward and, combined with a recurring infection, kept Rhoda Wise in and out of hospitals from that point on. Every few months it was now back to the hospital for new casting or additional surgery on her leg in attempts to straighten her foot. Besides the now chronic pain she had to endure, Rhoda’s immediate future saw her being confined to bed most of the time.

Rhoda’s first of many visions occurred while hospitalized and with George and Anna Mae, their adopted daughter, present. Rhoda saw Jesus as the Good Shepherd standing by the window. She told George and Anna Mae but they saw nothing. George thought she was hallucinating.

One of the nuns at Mercy Hospital, Sister Clement, a Sister of Charity, befriended Rhoda. Sister had great devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux  and gave Rhoda a small shrine of the “Little Flower” to put by her bed. Rhoda then asked Sister if she could hold her Rosary. When Sister handed it to her the Crucifix was very warm and Rhoda immediately asked Sister Clement to teach her about the beads. Graces were beginning to explode within her.

Rhoda fell in love with the Rosary and prayed it several times a day. She then asked Sister if she could make a novena to St. Therese. She had developed a brutally painful stomach cancer which was considered incurable. Jesus appeared to Rhoda on May 28, 1939 and told her He would come back with St. Therese on June 28.

Jesus returned as promised and, with St. Therese standing by His side, Rhoda’s incurable, open wounded stomach cancer vanished without a trace. On August 15, 1939, St. Therese visited Rhoda again and her cast broke apart and fell from her twisted foot. The foot was perfectly normal.

For lack of space here I shall finish this by mentioning a young woman by the name of Rita Rizzo. Rita was nineteen and suffered from what they called a “dropped stomach”. Her belly appeared discolored and deformed and the pain was excruciating. She went to see Rhoda who gave her a novena to St. Therese and told her to say it for nine days.

During the early morning hours on the ninth day pain exploded in Rita’s abdomen and then stopped. In the morning when she looked at her belly it appeared normal. The discoloration and deformity was gone and so was the pain. She had been cured and the pain never returned again. Rita Rizzo became Mother Angelica and founded EWTN. Rhoda Wise was the moving force in Mother Angelica’s becoming a nun.

On Good Friday, April 3, 1942, Rhoda Wise was given the Stigmata of the Crown of Thorns. Every Friday after,  until her death on July 7, 1948 , her forehead would bleed from noon until 3:00pm.

14,000 people showed up for her funeral. Countless cures were attributed to Rhoda and countless souls returned to Christ because of her. Ironically, Rhoda always felt the greatest miracle she witnessed was the day George stopped drinking and never had another drink as long as he lived. 

Rhoda Wise has been declared a Servant of God and her cause for sainthood has begun.

There is much to the story of Rhoda Wise. To learn more please visit http://rhodawise.com/



                                      copyright©Larry Peterson 2017

September 6, 2017

St. Mary of Cervellon: with Hurricane Irma fast approaching we should ask St. Mary of Cervellon for her Help and Protection

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


She was born sometime in 1230, some think around December 1, and was baptized on December 8* in Santa Maria del Mar parish in Barcelona. Her name was Mary de Cervellon, and she was the daughter of a Spanish nobleman, William de Cervellon.

As a young woman, Mary, began working in Saint Eulalia Hospital tending to the sick, the poor and also those who were prisoners. One day she heard a sermon given by Bernard de Corbarie, who was the superior of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Ransom, also known as Mercedarians. 

She was so moved by what she heard she vowed right then and there to do all she could to help alleviate the suffering and misery experienced by those who were prisoners of the Muslim Turks. Working at the hospital, Mary was able to come in contact with the great leaders of the Mercedarian order, including the order's founder, St. Peter Nolasco. Inspired by these pious people Mary, in the year, 1265,  joined a small group of women who lived near the monastery. These ladies spent their lives in constant prayer and doing good works for those in need.

In due time the women asked for and received permission to form the Third Order of Our Lady of Ransom. In addition to the normal three vows of poverty,  chastity, and obedience they also vowed to pray for all Christian slaves. They were all given permission to wear the white habit of the Mercedarians and Sister Mary de Cervellon was elected their first Mother Superior.

Sister Mary had such an empathy and devotion to the poor and needy that soon she began to be called Maria de Socros  (Mary of Help).  Mary de Cervellon passed away on Septemeber 19, 1290. During Mary's life and after her death, there were people who swore that they saw Mary literally on the "wings of the wind",  reaching down and saving floundering ships from rough seas so they might stay their course and continue on their journey to free Christian prisoners from the Muslims.

A great devotion grew in her honor and it was given approval by Pope Innocent XII in 1692. Paintings of Mary show her with a ship cradled in her arms as she saves it from the roaring seas around it.  Mary de Cervellon's body lies incorrupt to this very day in the Mercedarian Basilica in Barcelona, Spain.

At this very moment in time, a massive hurricane named, Irma, is talking dead aim at our homes in Florida and the Caribbean. The seas beneath Irma have turned into monstrous, walls of pounding destruction. Since St. Mary de Cervellon,  is the patroness of sailors and invoked especially against shipwreck, she is generally represented with a ship in her hand. We might invoke her name and ask her to help quell the pounding seas or maybe help divert Hurricane Irma in a diiferent direction. We could really use her help.

St. Mary de Cervellon, please pray for us all.

*the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was not proclaimed until  Pope Pius IX did so in 1854.

August 28, 2017

Honoring our Dead: Catholic Funeral Rites and the Consolation Ministry

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

"Come to me, all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest"   Matt: 11:28

The Catholic Church has a rich history of respecting and honoring all human life. From conception until death the church considers each person as God's individual creation and therefore, sacred in His eyes. The funeral rites set in place by the church reflect the church's beliefs in these principles.

There are distinct affirmations in the funeral process. The steps taken from the death of a loved one until final committal are all tied together so that besides honoring the departed, we who remain behind, can acknowledge the sacredness and dignity of not only the deceased but of all human life.

Wikipediacommons.org
The entire Catholic funeral rite is divided into several parts: the Vigil Service (known as the Viewing or Wake); the Funeral Mass; and the Rite of Committal. The Vigil Service is usually at a funeral home of the family’s choosing or in the parish church prior to the funeral Mass. During the Vigil, family and friends gather together to honor the deceased by praying (the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, reading Scripture, etc) and remembering the deceased in quiet conversation among the mourners.

The Funeral Mass is the second part of the process. Church tradition has always involved the celebration of the Mass with the body present. This reflects the honor and respect for the deceased who, during their life, had become temples of the Holy Spirit upon being baptized.

The Funeral Mass begins with the body being received at the church entrance by the priest and ministers. The body is brought into the church and the Mass begins. Select readings and songs, usually chosen by family members, are used during the liturgy. Finally, the body is escorted from the church. (Funeral Masses can now be celebrated in the presence of cremated remains).

The Rite of Committal follows the Mass. The general practice has always been to escort the body to the place of burial at the cemetery. This might be a gravesite, a mausoleum or a columbarium,
which is a place cremated remains are laid to rest. (This is a smaller version of a mausoleum). The Rite of Committal is celebrated at all of these sites and we all follow along as the priest leads us in prayer letting us know that our loved has “gone before us marked with the sign of faith”. We acknowledge that the deceased is now awaiting their resurrection, just as all of us will be doing one day.

Finally, there is the Consolation Ministry. This ministry is not available in many parishes but if yours has one, you are blessed. This is the ministry that will provide immediate outreach to a family and/or spouse upon the death of their loved one. My parish (Sacred Heart; Pinellas Park, FL) does have a Consolation Ministry.

When my wife, Marty died, the parish Consolation Ministry immediately reached out to us. They  helped us pick out the readings and music for the funeral. They were at the church (maybe 25 people) an hour before the service and they prayed the Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy for Marty. They greeted friends and family when they arrived at the church and some even traveled over to the cemetery with us. They organized a reception that was held after the funeral at a local hall. The spread was fantastic. They stayed in touch via phone calls and email. This Ministry provided an unexpected support system and it demonstrated the family presence that exists in a Catholic parish.

Interestingly, our parish Consolation Ministry was the result of one parishioner’s desire to start something that grew and blossomed into a beautiful thing. Rita Belcastro took it upon herself to ask our pastor if she could organize this ministry (there was none). He gave the go ahead and today, several years later, her actions have now grown into a ministry that has managed to affect the lives of countless, grieving people over the years bringing them a semblance of peace and love during very bleak times in their lives.  KUDOS Rita--well done.   


Rita’s initiative is a fine example how one person can change things for so many. You might consider talking to some friends about starting one and then ask your pastor if he will support you. There are pamphlets and booklets available to guide you. (Check with your Diocesan office) You may also become an active part of your Catholic parish family.

             
                  Copyright©Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved        

August 14, 2017

(From March,2017) An example of the KKK's hatred against Catholics:An American story about an Irish priest, a brave girl, and the KKK*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Each and every one of us is an individual work of art, crafted by God for Himself. Why would He do that? Because He is Love and wants to share Himself with us. We all are truly special in His eyes. He loves us all, individually and without reservation.

He will forgive each and every one of us for anything we might do to offend Him. All we have to do is admit it and ask Him for his forgiveness. However, that great interloper called "Pride", oftentimes places for many, immovable roadblocks to humility, everyone's needed ally on their path to Love.
Father James Coyle circa early 1900s  en.wikipedia

What follows is an "American" story about a Catholic priest and a member of the Ku Klux Klan. It is about love and hatred in America. This is not about present day. This happened in Birmingham, Alabama in the year 1921.

Father James Edwin Coyle had been born and raised in Ireland and, at the age of 23, was ordained a priest in Rome. The year was 1896. That same year he was dispatched to the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama to begin his ministry. Father Coyle served eight years in Mobile. While there he also became a charter member of Mobile Council 666 of the Knights of Columbus.

Birmingham was rapidly growing and was turning into one of the primary steel-making centers in America. Thousands were flooding into the area and Bishop Patrick Allen assigned Father Coyle to be pastor of the Cathedral of St. Paul in Birmingham. This was in 1904.

In 1915, inspired by the silent film, "Birth of a Nation" , the second generation of the Ku Klux Klan rose up (the link can explain the first and third generations). These folks were not only anti-black they also hated Roman Catholics, Jews, organized labor and foreigners. They started the use of the "burning cross" as their symbol. By the mid 1920s, there were over 4 million klansmen nationwide.

Father Coyle was a passionate priest who loved his faith deeply and this love was infectious. He taught and inspired his parishioners about the beauty and importance of the Mass and Holy Eucharist and he held a deep devotion to Our Blessed Mother.

As the Catholic population in Alabama grew, virtual hysteria on the part of the Ku Klux Klan began to permeate daily life. The Klan was spreading rumors and innuendo about Catholics kidnapping protestant women and children and keeping them imprisoned in convents, monasteries and catholic hospitals. The Klan even spread the narrative that the Knights of Columbus was the military arm of the Pope and that they were stockpiling weapons for the upcoming insurrection.

One of the leading Catholic haters of the day was a klansman by the name of Edwin Stephenson. Stephenson lived about a block or two away from St. Paul's Church. His daughter, Ruth, at about the age of 12, had become fascinated by the coming and goings of the Catholics at St. Paul's every day. One day she walked down to the church and Father Coyle was outside. They began to talk. Her father saw talking to the priest and, screaming at his child, demanded she go home immediately. Then he had a few choice words to say to Father Coyle. He then went home and beat his daughter.

Young Ruth was undeterred and over the next several years even managed to secretly take instruction from the nuns at the Convent of Mercy. She was baptized a Catholic on April 10,1921. She was 18 years old. When her parents found out their wedding gift to her was the worst beating she had ever received.

On August 11, 1921, Ruth Stephenson, of legal age, was seeking full emancipation from her parents. She did this by marrying Pedro Gussman, a former handyman who had worked at the Stephenson house several years earlier. The priest that performed the wedding was a reluctant Father James Coyle.

Later that afternoon, Mr. Stephenson loaded up his rifle and began walking to St. Paul's Church. He had just found out that it was Father Coyle who had performed the wedding. His heart was not filled with love. Rather, with hatred spilling from his eyes, he walked up onto the porch of St. Paul's where Father Coyle was sitting down reading. and shot the priest three times. The final bullet went right through Father Coyle's head. He died in less than an hour.

Stephenson turned himself in and was charged with Father Coyle's murder. The KKK paid for the defense, the judge was a klansman and the lawyer who defended Stephenson was Hugo Black, the future U. S. Supreme Court Justice. Although not a Klan member at the time of trial, Black did become a member afterwards. The verdict took only a few hours to come in. It was "Not Guilty".

Father James Edwin Coyle was a Catholic priest who loved his God, his Faith and his Church. He was hated and murdered because of it. May he forever rest in peace.

 *This article appeared in Aleteia on March 17, 2017

                ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved